Tiger Woods leaves Torrey Pines encouraged for 2018

Kirk Kenney, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Golf

SAN DIEGO -- Tiger Woods said he was "very pleased" with himself Sunday after completing four rounds of official tournament golf for the first time in 28 months.

Woods carded an even-par 72 in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, leaving him at 3 under for the tournament. Woods trailed leader Alex Noren by nine strokes as he walked off the course.

Contending for the championship was almost an afterthought this week for Woods, who has been sidelined most of the past two years by a bad back that has required four surgeries.

After missing the cut last year, missing the tournament in 2016 and failing to finish the first round in 2015, this was Tiger's best tour of Torrey since winning a record seventh Farmers title in 2013.

"After not playing for a couple years and coming out here on tour, playing, you know, four solid days, I fought hard for these scores," said Woods, who finished on the cutline after rounds of 72 and 71 to open the tournament. Saturday's 70 was his low round of the week. "They weren't like drive down the middle, hit it on the green, two-putt, one of those yawners. ...

"These were fighting, I had to fight for every score on every hole -- and sometimes those are more pleasing than the boring rounds. It showed that I had heart. I fought my tail off and it was good stuff."

Woods next will test himself in the Genesis Open from Feb. 15-18 at Riviera.

Asked what he will work on in the meantime, Woods said, "Everything."

Starting Sunday's round on No. 10 South, Woods went birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie over the Nos. 14-18 holes. When Woods made a 5-foot birdie putt at 18, the crowd cheered mightily.

Woods managed just one more birdie, at the par-4 2nd hole. He gave back to shots with bogeys at the 4th and 7th.

Woods' biggest challenge this weekend came when he had the driver in his hands. He averaged 303.1 yards off the team (ranking 16th here), but for the third straight round he hit only 3 of 14 fairways. Woods ranked 77th in driving accuracy among the 77 players who competed over the weekend.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, the 17 fairways hit were the fewest of Woods' career (by three).

Woods said he will need time on the range as well as in tournaments to work it out.

"Unfortunately, it's both because game time speed is very different than hometown speed," Woods said. "These are some of the narrowest fairways on the whole tour. When I don't have my best stuff, and on top of that these are narrow fairways, not it's windy. It just compounded it. It made it very difficult for me, anyways. I don't know about the rest of these guys, but it was tough for me."

Long gone, it seems, are the yips that plagued Woods a couple of years ago. His chipping was fantastic this week.

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"The short game wasn't something I was worried about coming into this week," Wood said. "I knew what I could do, what I've been doing at home. That wasn't going to be the issue."

His putting also was good -- at least when he wasn't interrupted by an overexuberant fan.

Woods was disrupted in the midst of a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 13th hole. A spectator shouted "Get in the hole" while Woods was bringing his putter forward to hit the ball.

Woods missed the putt and gestured toward the fan with a look of disgust before tapping in for par and walking away from the hole shaking his head.

Other spectators shouted "C'mon, man," at the fan, some suggesting he be escorted from the premises for the outburst.

Golf Digest took it a step further in an online story, proclaiming in a headline that the fan "deserves (a) lifetime ban from attending PGA Tour events."

Woods didn't mention the incident after his round. He was focused on the future.

Like next week's Super Bowl.

Question: Eagles or Patriots?

"Raiders," Woods said.

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